The sewage of the West presently congregated at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge claims to hate the federal government. But that’s not really true. Like most conservatives, what they hate is that the government doesn’t do precisely what they want it to do. They love the government if it pursues their own policy ends, even (or especially) to the detriment of those they hate. This is true of the larger neo-Sagebrush Rebellion. They love the government ignoring environmental law, arresting environmentalists, bulldozing sensitive ecosystems, and other ways to make hippies cry. Thus you have no consistency within these groups. The Bundys and the Hammonds and others say the federal government is destroying their “rights,” such as they are. One of them even relies on getting foster kids at his Arizona ranch for most of his income and is furious that they are now being taken away (and a whole lot of free labor) away! Yes the kids are placed there through Catholic Charities, but Catholic Charities receives well over half its funding from the government. But if the federal government has looser environmental law than the states, then they are all about the federal government. Take another set of Oregon idiots–miners in the Rogue River Basin who are openly violating a new state law on suction-dredge mining:
Barclay said the miners are working claims on federal lands in Rogue River Basin tributary streams that flow seasonally in winter, making winter the only time they can work enough to keep their claims for precious metals, mainly gold.
“We prefer to think of it as the great American tradition of civil disobedience,” Barclay said Thursday. “Those are federal claims mined under federal law. The state can drop dead.”
Barclay declined to name the miners or the streams they are dredging. He said the district intends to inform state officials that federal law grants the district the authority to regulate mining within its boundaries, which encompass Jackson, Josephine and Douglas counties.
“We’re basically saying we can do what we want. Take us to court to see if we can’t,” Barclay said.
But wait, I thought it was the federal government violating our rights? Now they are the defenders of our rights? Again, all they want is to treat the environment as their own private domain. Whichever level of government defends that to the detriment of other users of public lands, they love.
Despite all of this, once again, I want to reiterate how the core of these protests is a declining rural economy of poor, older white people who see their power disappearing. Not surprisingly, Harney County is the most government dependent county in Oregon, but these welfare recipients (as well as holders of government jobs of course) look in bitterness upon the government. They think the Forest Service and BLM should have stood up to–who exactly?–to keep allowing logging on federal lands that was largely closed because of the need to protect spotted owl habitat. Was the USFS supposed to ignore the president? Federal courts? Of course this is an absurd question. But it gets back to the welfare attitude of the rural Westerner. The government is there to give me what I want. When other factors get in the way, that government becomes the enemy, helping those other people instead, be there African-Americans, Mexicans, Portland hippies, or whoever they fantasize as their enemies.
As far as ending this foolishness goes, it’s certainly helping discredit them that the government is laying low and letting them show themselves for the bullies and idiots that they are. I called for a need to crack down on these people earlier, and I do believe that is true, although that doesn’t necessarily mean going in there with guns blazing. It needs to be prosecuting all of these people to fullest extent of the law, a huge mistake made when dealing with the Bundys in Arizona and Nevada, where the government has simply backed down. It’s highly unclear whether law enforcement and the government has a real strategy to not do that again. But so far as making sure people aren’t sympathizing with them, letting them act like themselves is helping, what with the open intimidation and harassment of local residents.